Communications Minister seeks more synergy in ICT sector

Timothy Choji, Abuja

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Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami says all stakeholders in the Information Communication Technology sector must continue to synergise, in order to take the country to higher levels in the technological world.

He made the call on Thursday, in his remarks at the opening of this year’s e-Nigeria conference, held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.

Pantami said that has been his area of focus, since he assumed office in August, as the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.

He said: “The first thing we did under the federal Ministry of Communications was to bring synergy and establish a pragmatic team. ICT has converged today so all stakeholders must converge with the aim of supporting one another in order to take the country to higher levels when it come to ICT.

“The first thing we did was to establish synergy within all the parastatals under the ministry and other bodies, that we feel are very important in delivering our mandate. This has supported us significantly and that is why for instance, even e-Nigeria conference for the first time is being hosted by all the parastatals under the ministry. This is a demonstration of the unity and synergy, without which it is absolutely difficult to achieve anything.”

Successes

On the successes so far recorded by the ministry, the Minister said a programme called digital job had since been launched and it is already yielding the desired results for the country.

“I can recall vividly on the 10th of September, we launched a programme called digital jobs where we started training unemployed youth and some were married women, to give them the digital skills in order to become entrepreneurs and we have achieved that significantly. In the pilot programme, so far, over 5000 Nigerians have benefited from the training and most of them are entrepreneurs today,” he said.

On her part, Keynote Speaker at the event, Funke Okpeke harped on the need to create more jobs, especially in the ICT sector, to address unemployment.

According to her, foreign investors must also be encouraged to domesticate their technology platforms in Nigeria, so as to yield more dividends for the country.

“Most countries do not allow foreign businesses play in certain areas of their economy because indigenous companies need to create local jobs. We have examples form petty trading in Ghana to supermarkets in India and data centres in China.

“When data bases of critical importance to Nigerian citizens such as identity and government accounts are hosted offshore, our country faces inherent risks. We are simply sending too much of our proprietary information, our skills and even our start-up ventures abroad and we need to do more to retain our collective wisdom here.

“In this virtual world, where almost any service in Nigeria can be delivered form offshore, we need to be deliberate about our strategy so as not to remain simply consumers of technology.  We need to encourage global players to domesticate technology platforms here in our country and create jobs if they want to play. We need these players to collaborate and invest in our economy to get a return, not simply to extract value,” She advised.

The occasion was used to present prizes to two Nigerians that excelled at the recently concluded world ICT competition in Dubai, United Arab Emirate.